Welcome, Gail Z. Martin!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Gail Z. Martin to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I write epic fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, and comedic horror as Gail Z. Martin. As Morgan Brice, I write urban fantasy MM paranormal romance. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 14, and my first book was published when I was 45. We work with big publishers, small press and we also publish some of our books indie. My husband, Larry N. Martin, and I write full time, and several of our series are co-written. Behind the scenes, we both work on everything together.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing—We have a Maltese named Kipp and a Golden Retriever named Flynn. Kipp was definitely the inspiration for Baxter in my Deadly Curiosities stories, and Chase, our past Golden Retriever, was the inspiration for Bo in that series.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

Baxter in Deadly Curiosities shows up a lot. Did you know that vampire glamor works on a dog and makes him stop yipping at the door? There’s a running joke about that in the Deadly Curiosities books. Bo is the ghost of the main character’s golden retriever and he’s her spirit protector. She can summon his ghost with a shake of his old dog collar/tags and he is a very good ally in a fight.

What writing projects are you currently working on?—I have lots in the works! My goal is to have sequels for all our current series this year as well as launch a couple of new series. That’s very ambitious, and we might not get everything done, but I’m going to try! right now, I’m finishing up The Rising, which is a Morgan Brice romance and is the sequel to Badlands. It’s a psychic and a cop in Myrtle Beach working together to solve supernatural murders, and this one involves pirates and lost treasure! After that, I’ll be working on the fourth Deadly Curiosities novel, the next installment in the Spells Salt and Steel universe with Larry, and a sequel in my new Night Vigil urban fantasy series.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.—Growing up, I had a gray tabby cat named Misty and a miniature schnauzer named Heather. Since Larry and I have been married, we had two black/black and tan cocker spaniels and then a golden retriever, two Himalayan cats, and now our current golden and Maltese.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?—So far, they aren’t the point of view characters or a central part of the story, but they are very important to the characters. That may change, since I have a shifter romance series in mind!

Why do you include animals in your writing?—I love my pets, and pets have always been very important to me. They don’t work for every character—some travel too much or aren’t in a situation where they could provide a good pet home. But I think that showing characters connected to other people and animals helps to flesh out their story and make them more real and relatable.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know? —I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was 14 and I figured out that it was a something you could choose to do. I had never really thought about who the people were who wrote the books before that. Once I made up my mind, I chose my college major, my graduate school major, and my career to support that someday goal!

What do your pets do when you are writing?—They ‘commute’ back and forth between my desk and my husband’s desk, keeping us both company!

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?—That the whole process can take a while to get off the ground, so don’t get discouraged!

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?—I really love days when I can write on my screened-in porch, because it’s so pretty out there. The dogs like it, too, and come hang out with me. I can watch birds and squirrels and lizards!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?—Never give up!

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Welcome back, Nupur Tustin!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Nupur Tustin back to the blog. Congratulations on your new book!

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

First of all, let me say that it’s wonderful to be back! Last time I was here, I told your readers that I misuse a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate murder in Joseph Haydn’s Austria.

I have to confess, I’m still at it. Prussian Counterpoint, the third Joseph Haydn Mystery, came out just about thirteen days ago.

When I visited last year, I was in the throes of writing the novel, and although I plot all my novels, this one was written a little more intuitively than others. If your readers have watched The Man Who Invented Christmas, they’ll know what I mean. That the experiences we encounter and engage in can influence the shape our novel takes—more so when we have a strict deadline to follow.

I talk about this quite a bit in Rehearsal Notes, the free companion novel I was offering readers who preordered the book. I’m happy to extend that offer to any of your readers who buy the book by the end of this month.

So, then did blogging for Pens, Paws, and Claws influence the third novel at all?

Funny you should ask, because, yes, it absolutely did. I remember being a bit apprehensive about being interviewed.

“But my novels don’t really include pets,” I protested. “Eighteenth-century individuals don’t appear to have viewed their horses and dogs as pets.” You allayed my fears.

And so I focused last time on explaining to readers why historical mysteries typically don’t involve pets, but I did mention a couple of odd characters who were very fond of their dogs: Marie Antoinette and Frederick the Great.

You wondered at the time whether Frederick’s dogs would be given a key role in the novel. Now I hadn’t really intended to do so, but your question gave me pause. And the more I considered the matter, the more of an excellent idea it seemed. And so Frederick’s Italian greyhounds do get a small but significant role in the plot. They also provide Haydn with an important clue.

We’d love to read an excerpt.

Yes, of course. Now this is the first time that Haydn and the reader encounter Frederick’s spoiled Italian greyhounds. The servants had to address them using the formal “Vous,” instead of the more usual third person. The hounds were served special food in special bowls and were warmly welcomed in their royal master’s bed.

In this scene, they’re in the opera house and Haydn, as you’ll see, is rather uncomfortable about this situation:

“What think you of our opera, my dear Haydn?” The King, who had insisted the Kapellmeister be seated next to him, tapped him on the knee. The Italian greyhound at his feet shifted, flopping itself onto Haydn’s feet.

The Kapellmeister stiffened. He had nothing against dogs. On the hunting fields, no animal could be more useful. But what kind of man brought a dog into an opera house? God forbid, the creature should do its business on his shoes!

On the stage, Medea complained of having lost the love of Jason. A most unsuitable subject for the occasion, Haydn privately thought. This opera about a woman who forced her unfaithful husband to devour his children. But it was not the sort of remark one made to a King.

“It is a most intriguing subject, Your Majesty,” was all he could think of saying.

“Indeed.” A pair of piercing blue eyes fastened themselves upon Haydn’s features. “And why is that?”

Haydn took a deep breath and took the plunge. “One wonders how a man would react under the circumstances, Your Majesty.”

“A man would simply cut his losses and move on, Haydn. But women rather than accepting their fate try to interfere, thus spoiling everything.”

Haydn’s eyes flickered involuntarily to the Empress. Was that the King’s assessment of Her Majesty, then?

“My remarks appear to have hit the mark.” The King’s softly uttered words pulled Haydn’s gaze back. His Majesty’s well formed lips were curving into an amused smile. “You have the misfortune of being acquainted with such a woman, I suppose, Haydn.”

The Kapellmeister felt his cheeks burn at the insinuation. His nostrils flared. “Your Majesty is mistaken,” he said as calmly as he could manage. The sound of teeth clicking against metal reached his ears.

The infernal greyhound was chewing on the buckles of his shoes.

“Pepi!” The King called sharply, giving Haydn a start. But it was only the dog that His Majesty was addressing. So, the hound was christened Joseph, too! God be thanked, the King had not seen fit to nickname the creature Sepperl.

Explain Haydn’s reaction to the dog’s name.

The name Joseph, Haydn’s name, that is to say, had two diminutives. One was Sepperl. This is what Haydn’s parents called him. The other was Pepi. So naturally, Haydn gets a start when the King calls out this particular nickname. Can you imagine how insulted an eighteenth-century individual would feel about having a hound named after himself?

I like to think Haydn would’ve taken it in good spirit. He was never inclined to take himself seriously.

Do Pepi and his greyhound friends get any other scenes in the novel?

Yes, as a matter of fact, they do. They’re not particularly good guard dogs, too lazy to bark at anyone or even to take any notice of anyone who walks past them. This time, it’s the Prussian King’s principal court secretary, Anton Eichel, who encounters the dogs:

Eichel stepped out of the picture gallery to the sounds of an ever-growing commotion. It appeared to be coming from the cluster of rooms beyond the chamber he occupied as principal secretary.

The noise was loud enough to arrest his motion, but Eichel noticed that the King’s Italian greyhounds—sprawling lazily on their embroidered cushions—dozed on undisturbed. His own footsteps on the stone floor had merely caused one of the three dogs to open a single eyelid and glance reproachfully his way over a long, pointy snout.

Do make that infernal noise stop, Eichel, the creature seemed to be saying. We are trying to nap! In the principal court secretary’s head, the greyhounds sounded just like their master, with a voice just as high-pitched and mannered as the King’s.

What are you reading now?

I’ve been devouring Aaron Elkins’ art mystery series. He writes the Alix London series with his wife Charlotte Elkins and he’s also written a few standalones. I’ve just finished A Long Time Coming. A stupendous novel!

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a new series with a new character. Haydn has several more cases to solve, but he’s informed me that he wants to focus on his music for a bit before I confront him with his next dead body. I think the poor man must be heartily sick of stumbling upon corpses.

He’ll do his duty and stumble upon more at my request, but I can understand his need to focus on something a little more pleasant for just a little while longer.

Who is your favorite author and why?

This changes all the time. At the moment, it’s Aaron & Charlotte Elkins. I love the cozy-thrillers they write. The books are fast-paced with a strong sense of danger, but you still get still get that sense of place and the sort of local flavor that’s only possible in a cozy. And their characters are wonderfully drawn as well with such fascinating backstories!

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

I usually don’t—not in my historical series, at any rate—for the reasons I’ve already mentioned. Prussian Counterpoint was an exception, and I enjoyed writing the dogs into the plot. For the most part, though, if the plot calls for animals, I’ll use them. That may not always happen, and that’s fine.

What’s your real-life funniest pet story?

This isn’t a funny story, but it’s one I fondly remember. About seven years ago, when my eldest was just a tiny baby, Chicken, our younger pit bull, trotted into the kitchen and nudged me back toward the bedroom. Rena had just woken up from a nap and was crying. Washing dishes in the kitchen, I hadn’t heard her. If it weren’t for Chickie, she’d still have been crying.

That wasn’t the first time, Chickie alerted me to Rena’s crying. While she slept, he and Fatty would sit on either side of her nap-nanny on our bed and watch over her. It’s memories like these that I’ll always cherish.

We’ve lost both our pit bulls, unfortunately. Some day when the kids are a bit older, we’ll get a couple more dogs. For now, we’ll have to make do with our memories. Both Fatty and Chicken were great dogs—and very patient with their three rambunctious human siblings!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
I think the most important advice anyone can give someone just starting out on this path is that you have to believe in yourself in order to stay the course. It’s easy to let other people and setbacks discourage you. But when you do that, the only person you’ve disappointed is yourself.

When I first conceived of the Haydn Mysteries in 2012, I never thought I’d get one novel written, let alone publish three! I’m glad I persisted. And I hope to keep writing until I draw my last breath.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Readers interested in getting a Complimentary Taste of Murder are invited to visit http://bit.ly/Haydn_Taste_of_Murder where I’m offering Three Free Mysteries.

About Nupur:

Bio: A former journalist, Nupur Tustin relies upon a Ph.D. in Communication and an M.A. in English to orchestrate fictional mayhem. Childhood piano lessons and a 1903 Weber Upright share equal blame for her musical works.

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Free Taste of Murder: http://bit.ly/Haydn_Taste_of_Murder

Links:

To Buy Prussian Counterpoint or the two previous Haydn Mysteries, visit:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/HaydnMystery3

Kobo: http://bit.ly/PrussianKobo

B&N Nook: http://bit.ly/PrussianNook

Apple iTunes: https://apple.co/2Sbja9i

 

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Welcome, Cheryl Russell

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Cheryl Russell to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

For many years, I was bedbound with severe ME, unable to do anything for myself. In 2013 God healed me and since then I’ve been building up my strength.

I’ve self-published 8 books which are a mix of genres. My first was historical fiction. Most of them are thrillers and one murder mystery. I wrote a nonfiction book about my life with ME and my healing.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

I have 2 adorable gerbils called Tom and Jerry. I had gerbils through the early        years of ME but then had many years without them as I didn’t have anyone to        look after them. They are such beautiful animals. Very funny and cute. When they get themselves into trouble, they only have to stand up, and I’ll forgive them anything.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

I have written a few short stories about gerbils. I used to attend a writing class and they soon realised my love of gerbils as I read our stories I’d written about them. I have also written about them in an email to a friend. She loves hearing about them. They make her smile and entertain her.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m editing a couple of historical fiction set around the second world war era. I’ve just begun writing another murder mystery, featuring the same female sleuths as in my last one. Its current title is Partners in Crime. Blood has been found in the bath but no body anywhere.

What’s your real-life funniest pet story?

I thought my gerbil Hattie had escaped or something had happened. I hadn’t seen her. I decided to put my hand in the cage as that would usually elicit a response. Nothing. Worried I rustled my hand in the bedding. Hettie emerged but no sign of Hattie. I continued but no Hattie. I suddenly saw the cardboard egg box move that I’d put there for them to play with. It seemed to move on its own, earning the nickname the haunted egg box. A little head peered out from under it looking so innocent, no idea of the trouble she’d been causing. Hattie had been sleeping under the box all the time.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer from a very young age. During those awful years when I was bedbound I’d lay there imagining lots of different stories. I pretty much had the entire plot of Lily of the Valley, my first book, in my head. As soon as I was able, I wrote all the notes I had and then the book made its way on to my laptop and then to Amazon. It was my baby and sending it out into the world was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

Sometimes they will sleep like they are today and other times they’ll be busy playing kicking bedding everywhere or destroying cardboard, chewing it into little pieces. They are very distracting when they are playing as I just want to watch them and enjoy the entertainment. Gerbilvision is better than television any day.

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

A mixture of books. Plenty of thrillers, Christian books, anything that looks good. I have no idea how many books I have. Two piles of physical books and loads more on my Kindle.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Keep going, don’t give up. Do writing courses, go to a local writing class. Practise at every opportunity.

What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that you’d like to share?

The writing is the easy part. If you go down the traditional publishing route its easier but still challenging. I chose to self-publish. It’s the marketing afterwards that’s difficult. Don’t give up.

About Cheryl:

Cheryl is a multi-genre author. She has written one historical fiction and is working on two others currently. She has written several thrillers and one murder mystery. A collection of short stories is also included in her list of published writing. In total, 8 books now.

Cheryl was bedbound for many years with the chronic illness ME. During those awful years when she could do nothing for herself she enjoyed spending time in her imagination writing books. Her debut novel was comprehensively plotted in her head, she just had to wait until she was able to put pen to paper and write it. She was miraculously healed by God in 2013 and has since been building up her muscles to get her strength back. This continues to be ongoing in 2019. It is a slow process, but she is doing well.

She was recently a runner up in the Student of the Year Award with the Writers Bureau. Last year she also achieved finalist in the Book Talk Radio Club Awards mystery category. Cheryl is very proud of these achievements as it shows just how far she has come from those awful days, and also it validates her writing ability.

When not writing she enjoys reading, going to an aqua fit class once a week. She is crazy about gerbils and currently has two called Tom and Jerry.

Cheryl is also autistic so has to work hard on dialogue. After finishing her debut novel, a friend looked through the first chapter and noticed the dialogue wasn’t natural. Telling her how it should be has really helped Cheryl improve that novel and improve her writing since then. Dialogue, although still difficult, has become easier to write and become more natural. She still has to check it carefully in the editing stages and correct it.

Cheryl has had to overcome so many challenges to reach the stage she is at now. Her lifelong dream of being an author has been realised.

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Welcome, Elizabeth Moldovan!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author, Elizabeth Moldovan to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

Hi, my name is Elizabeth, and I recently published my life story only to help other people who struggle with drug use. I have 5 children, and the youngest is 15. I love gardening, drawing and painting, cooking and minding my granddaughter 2 days a week.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

During the years it took for me to write my book, we adopted a dog that had been abused prior to her coming to live in our home. Shortly after we found out that she was going to have puppies and she gave birth to 7, in the corner of our kitchen. We called her “Tiny” and everyone loved her. She brought much joy to us all and we had over 40 different people visit us and her puppies. They went to good homes and after 3 years, Tiny went to live on a farm with a good home. At that time, we cried to let her go, because a young mum 18, from the community, who reached out for help with her newborn baby, came to live with us for the next 2 years.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

My children always had pets growing up, and I wrote about them all in the book. (guinea pigs, fish, rabbits, rats/mice). We bought them a puppy for Christmas and called him Binky. I write about Binky in the book because we all loved him, and he grew up with my children. After I fell pregnant with my 5th child, we had to move home so my niece adopted Binky and cared for him into his old age.

 What are you reading now?

“The Invisible Girl” by Samantha Houghton

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I have been accepted to be part of a new book that will be released in April in the UK along with 13 other authors. I have to write 5,000 words about my life story, and the book has a working title “Courage: Dark to Light” and proceeds will go to Samaritans, who help people who have lost hope.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Anne Frank, because as a child I identified with her suffering and her courage touched and inspired me.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

We were very poor growing up, but I remember before Dad fell ill with lung cancer, we had a cat. I was only 5 at the time, but I remember he crawled under the washing machine and Mum had to clean the grease off him.

Whats your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

It would have to be “Lassie.” I have very lovely memories of how beautiful and intelligent a dog could be.

What is your real life, funniest pet story?

There are so many, the stand out would be when “Tiny” was giving birth to her puppies and because she was so small, we all thought she would have about 3. After the 6th and then 7th were born, we were all laughing at the wonder and joy of life.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I have always loved reading and writing but never in a million years thought I would ever write my autobiography.

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

Mainly educational and biographies are on my Goodreads list. I know that I will never have time to read them all but the next book is “One nation under Therapy” by Christina Hoff Summers.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?

Market and build an interested base around your book about a year before it is published. Connect with people who read your genre, and like-minded authors.

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

My dining room table, perhaps because I feel comfortable in my kitchen and also because it was my mum’s table for 30 years.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Read the fine print. Be brave and never give up.

What is one lesson you learned about writing or publishing that youd like to share?

I learned that there is nothing to fear and that people love inspiring stories.

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Welcome, Debra Goldstein

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome mystery author, Debra Goldstein to the blog this week.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

Judge, author, litigator, wife, step-mom, mother of twins, transplanted Yankee and civic volunteer are all words used to describe me. My writings are equally diverse. Although my novels are traditional mysteries with cozy elements, my short stories tend to be darker with unexpected twists. My non-fiction essays reflect emotional slices of life.

I am very excited about One Taste Too Many, the first of my new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series being published by Kensington. In One Taste, culinary challenged Sarah knows starting over after her divorce will be messy. Things fall apart completely when her ex drops dead, seemingly poisoned by her twin sister’s award-winning rhubarb crisp. Now, with her cat, RahRah, wanted by the woman who broke up her marriage and her sister wanted by the police for murder, Sarah needs to figure out the right recipe to crack the case before time runs out. Unfortunately, for a gal whose idea of good china is floral paper plates, catching the real killer and living to tell about it could mean facing a fate worse than death – being in the kitchen!

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

Presently, I don’t have any pets (unless you count my husband), but in the past, I’ve had dogs. Traits from our toy poodle and bichon frise find their way into book two, Two Bites Too Many, but my limited knowledge of animals beyond dogs was a definite problem when I decided I wanted a cat to play a major role in the Sarah Blair mystery series. I remedied my lack of familiarity with cats by contacting a friend who has a very special Siamese cat, Suri. Suri’s behavior, tricks, and even appearance became the model for my absolute favorite cat, RahRah.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

One of the main characters in the Sarah Blair mystery series is RahRah the cat. Sarah married at eighteen, divorced by twenty-eight and in doing so swapped a luxury lifestyle for a cramped studio apartment and a job as a law firm receptionist. The only thing she can show for the past decade is her feisty Siamese cat, who previously belonged to her ex’s mother. Knowing RahRah already probably spent one of his nine lives when he was rescued, as a kitten from a hurricane’s floodwaters, Sarah is very protective of RahRah – when she isn’t wishing she could have the resilience and confidence he has. Basically, RahRah owns the world.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

One Taste Too Many is the first of at least three Sarah Blair mysteries. I’m doing final edits on the second book, Two Bites Too Many, and am writing the third book, Three Treats Too Many. In my spare time, I’ve been writing short stories. Several of them will be published in 2019 including The Dinner Gift, which won an award in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable competition, Harvey and the Red HeadThe Eyes of Texas anthology, and Nova, Capers, and a Schmear of Cream CheeseFishy Business, an anthology compiled by the Guppy Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

The earliest pet I remember having was a goldfish won at a school carnival. Sadly, it barely survived the transfer from its plastic bag to a small bowl. After a proper mourning period, my parents bought me three miniature turtles. I named them Turk, Dirk, and Lurk – perhaps a sign of the mystery bent my writing career would take. Later, we added a grey miniature poodle, Lord Silver Mist (Misty) to the family menagerie.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

I believe animals have true personalities and impact the lives of everyone in a household. Consequently, when I use an animal in my writing, as I do with RahRah in the Sarah Blair mystery series, the animal must be a fully developed character. I want the reader to enjoy the animal’s behavior and interaction with the human characters, not simply be a reference to a cat or dog because the book or story has cozy elements. For me, the interaction between animals and humans can provide the impetus to move the story forward, be an instance of comic relief, or simply serve to illustrate another character’s personality. RahRah does all of these things at different points in One Taste Too Many.

Why do you include animals in your writing?

I include animals in my writing because they allow me show, rather than tell, the reader about different aspects of the other characters’ personalities. For example, if a fussy animal rubs against the leg of a seemingly tough character, but the character unconsciously bends and pets the animal, we realize the tough guy has a soft side. My animals also create or dissipate tension through dramatic or comedic moments. Finally, I use animals because I like them.

What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

My favorite book with an animal as a prominent character is One Taste Too Many because after living with it for the past year, I’m partial to it. Bambi is the movie with a central animal character that had a lasting impact on me because of its plot twists, but those twists are what keeps me from using the word “favorite” with it.

 Bambi was the first movie I ever saw in a theater. I was three years old and the movie was a treat my father took me to because my parents had recently brought home this thing they called my sister. I’m not sure if they wanted me to have one on one time with a parent or simply thought it a good idea to get me out of the house because every time they asked me to help by handing them something for the baby, I threw it at her – don’t worry, we are very close now. Although I still smile when I think of Bambi and Thumper, the animals, the scenes when Bambi’s mother was killed and where the fire spread through the forest were so powerful they made a lasting impression on me. I watched the movie again as an adult and was again disturbed by those scenes, but now I understood them from a writer’s perspective. Each was a major plot point change where tension and conflict occurred. For a writer, Bambi is an excellent lesson in how to effectively manipulate the emotions of a viewer or reader.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?

When I first started writing, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I thought getting the story in my head on paper was all I had to do. I wish I had known more about the business side – agents, publishers, distribution, marketing, social media usage, and personal platforms. It has been a steep learning curve. The other thing I wish I knew when I started writing is how wonderful and supportive other writers would prove to be.

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why?

My favorite place to read or write is in an oversized club chair that my mother had made for my father for their first anniversary. My father wasn’t a big person, but he had long legs. She ordered the chair built with an extra two inches of length in the seat and plenty of back support. For years, my father used that chair to read the paper and watch television. When he wasn’t home, my sister and I used the arms of that chair as our imaginary horses and by covering it with a blanket, we often made it our tent or covered wagon.

When my father died, the chair, for the next decade, became the one my mother curled up in when she wanted to read or visit with any of her kids or grandchildren. If I was visiting, I’d wait for her to go to bed and then sneak into the chair to read or write. It just felt right. When my mother died, other than some art work, there was only one piece of furniture I insisted on shipping from California to Alabama. Today, the chair sits in my bedroom. I use it to read and write and our grandchildren have discovered how wonderful its arms are for make believe.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Do it! Passion should never be ignored.

About Debra

One Taste Too Many is the first of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series by Agatha and Anthony nominated Judge Debra H. Goldstein. Her prior books include Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Debra’s short stories have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. She is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppies, serves on Sinc’s national board, and is vice-president of SEMWA.

 

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Find out more about her writings at www.DebraHGoldstein.com , on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DebraHGoldsteinAuthor/ , or on Twitter @DebraHGoldstein.

One Taste Too Many is available in print and e-book from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Taste-Many-Sarah-Blair-Mystery/dp/1496719476 ), Barnes & Noble (https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/one-taste-too-many-debra-h-goldstein/1128297322?ean=9781496719478#/ ) and your local indie bookstores.

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Welcome, Eric Woods!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author Eric Woods to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
Beginning in third grade, my teachers would assign short stories for the class to write. While most of the class took the assignments with little significance, I became enamored with the art of storytelling. I began writing outside of class simply for fun and made it my mission to someday write a novel. My genre of choice was horror. I had become a fan of the 80s slasher film series such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street, to name a few. The idea of good vs. evil has always been exciting to write about. Coming up with strong protagonists and evil antagonists drove me to come up with creative stories.

During my undergraduate years at the University of Illinois Springfield, I took a class on playwriting. This was a new genre in creative writing, and I took to it immediately. My final project, the three-act play Uncle, was voted to be performed in Reader’s Theatre for the university. My second play, the murder-mystery Macabre, was performed by the UIS Repertory Theatre in 1998. A year later, after I had graduated with an English degree, the same theatre performed my dark comedy The Living End. In total I have written 10 full length stage plays with two others still in process.

My creative writing took a hiatus for many years. Although I have been a freelance writer since 2005, it wasn’t until November 2015 when I finally discovered a method for novel writing that worked for me. I had begun half a dozen ideas that didn’t make it past 2,000 words over the years. But this time was different. I had an idea, and instead of haphazardly jumping in with little direction, I thought about the story, the characters, the settings, and everything else it would take to get through to the end. I wrote character sketches (revising as needed), put together an outline, and set a modest 500 word per day goal. By mid-July of 2016, I had finished the first draft of PUMMELED, a novel roughly 120,000 words in length. The editing and revising process was intense, but by June 2018, I was finally satisfied and decided to self-publish the novel.

Although I have always been a fan of horror, this novel belongs in the action-drama category. My second novel, however, is indeed of the horror variety. I began Dragon’s Blood during the editing process of my first novel and finished the first draft this past August. My first edit bumped the word count up to approximately 93,500 words. My hope is to have it ready for publication by October, 2019 in time for Halloween.

Now that I have figured out the method of writing that works for me, the ideas have poured in. I am already outlining my third novel which should be a unique style that I do not believe has been done before in the world of creative writing (at least I hope not).

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
I currently have two dogs (Thor and Hilda) and one cat (Zazu). Last November we lost our dog Maddux to a sudden illness, and we were fortunate to find and adopt our two current pooches a few weeks later. They are a wonderful addition to the family. Thor is a Chihuahua mixed with something bigger, and Hilda is a senior long-haired Chihuahua/pug mix. I have yet to model them in my writing, but in a future novel, I intend to use the names of each dog I have ever had as my feature characters’ names.

What are you reading now?
Right now I am re-reading Stephen King’s IT in preparation for the theatrical release of IT Chapter 2 later in the year. I am also working on The Butcher Bride by Vince Churchill. I need to circle back to my Stephen King list and revisit Duma Key before starting his newer novels. The Outsider looks extremely thrilling.

What writing projects are you currently working on?
I am currently in the editing process of Dragon’s Blood, my second novel. It is a horror/sci-fi offering that I hope is well received by lovers of the genre. The idea was sparked by a friend of mine who created a unique piece of jewelry. As I studied it, the ideas began to flow, and next thing I knew, I had outlined an entire novel. Also, my third novel is currently in the outlining stage, but I have yet to officially begin writing the text.

Who is your favorite author and why?
I have been a Stephen King fanatic since I first read The Shining in grade school. As a horror movie buff and avid reader, it was only natural that I journeyed into the word of King and his novels. They have given me the most inspiration in my writings, and I always look to his novels when I want to see how it’s done.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
I had one dog as a child. She was a black pick-a-poo mix named Missy. She was kind of a mutt, but we loved her. While in college (after Missy passed away), we adopted Chelsea, a white West Highland Terrier, and she was one of the sweetest pups I ever had the honor of being around. I used to think she escaped from the circus, as she could dance on her back hind legs when prompted.

How do you use animals in your writing? Are they a character in their own right or just mentioned in passing?

So far, all “real” animals have only been mentioned in passing. In Dragon’s Blood, the major antagonist is not human, although it is more of a fictitious being than an actual animal. In my idea for the (hopefully) sequel to my first novel, Pummeled, I already took note that Bree (the main character) will be rescuing a dog from a bad situation in the book’s opening chapter. He will likely become a central character of his own.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

When writing short stories in grade school, I knew I wanted to be a writer. The idea of coming up with creative stories came natural to me, and by doing it outside of school in my free time, it made me want to keep going.

What do your pets do when you are writing?
My pets love being close by whenever I am home. I have my own office where I write, and whenever I am there, they will lie next to the chair behind me. Thor sometimes likes to jump onto my lap as I am writing, just to see what I am doing.

What’s the most unusual pet you’ve ever had?
Although I have never had a pet I would consider unusual, the chief plot of Dragon’s Blood centers around the bizarre pet one of my main characters discovered as a child back in 1930. The remainder of the novel surrounds what has happened to the being nearly 90 years later.

What are two things you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
Outlining is imperative! For years I wanted to learn the secret to being able to write a novel. Some would say ‘just write’ while others told me not to even waste my time. I began a number of would-be novels, and never made it beyond 3,000 words. Then, on a whim, I caught an article about character sketching and outlining prior to any official storytelling. When the idea for PUMMELED came to me, I followed what I had learned, sketching a rough outline along with the main characters I already knew I wanted in the book. As I put more time and effort into the project, the outline blossomed, the characters came to life, and soon I was writing what would be my first full length novel.

A second thing I wish I knew years ago was to write down every idea, even if I could not dive right into a new story. The worst thing you can do is say “I’ll write it down later.” Because chances are, you will forget the idea later, and you will kick yourself.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

There a couple things writers need to know as they prepare to write anything. First of all, do not let anyone tell you that writing is a waste of time. Even if you do not see it as a full time occupation, you should never let someone else squelch your creativity. Writing can be such a release, especially when you are in the zone and on a roll with your story.

It is also imperative to know that there is a lot of competition out there. Just look at Instagram, and you will come across hundreds of aspiring writers looking for people to read their creations. Especially now that self-publishing is a much easier process (thanks, technology), there are more people than ever seeing their dreams of writing books come to fruition.

About Eric Woods

Eric Woods resides in Springfield, Illinois. He is married to Lisa and has two children (Hunter and Peyton) and two stepchildren (Jake and Sam). He has been writing since grade school and is the author of 10 full length stage plays. His first novel, PUMMELED, was published in June of 2018, and he is in the process of finishing his second novel, the horror story DRAGON’S BLOOD which is scheduled for release in October 2019. Eric has been a local freelance writer since 2005, writing for such outlets as Springfield Business Journal Illinois and SO Magazine. He serves as a tour guide for the Lincoln Ghost Walk in Springfield and was a collegiate speech and debate coach for seven years.

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Welcome, Author and Blogger, Julie Ryan!

Happy New Year! Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author and book blogger, Julie Ryan to the blog as our first guest of the new year.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I was born in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. Not venturing too far from home, I studied French Language and Literature at Hull University, where I also trained as a teacher. Then the wanderlust kicked in and I lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. I am a bookaholic with a one-click addiction much to my husband’s dismay as we are running out of space. I will probably need to live to be 197 in order to read all the books on my shelves. When not writing or reading, I love amateur dramatics and this year I get to play the Soothsayer in Robin Hood.

My Greek Island Mystery series includes Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret and Pandora’s Prophecy. Each can be read as a standalone. My latest book is Finding Rose, a story of three sisters, three time periods and three secrets.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

At the moment we just have one cat, Smudgie, having lost our grumpy old man, Gizzie, over a year ago. Smudgie was a stray that my husband brought home from work. He was in a sorrowful state, covered in oil from the garage with an abscess on his neck. Now he is the most affectionate cat ever. His friendliness knows no bounds and one morning I woke up and looked out of the window to find him inside the pub opposite. He’d obviously stayed for a lock-in. There are always pets in my books, but none based on my own pets so far.

Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?

It wasn’t intentional, but I think there is a cat in most of the books I’ve written. All my books are standalones, so the pets aren’t recurring characters. In Jenna’s Journey there is a cat with catitude ironically called Mr. Tickles, in Sophia’s Secret there is a female cat called Elektra who is a bit of a diva, in Pandora’s Prophecy there is a puppy for a change called Pickles, and in Callie’s Christmas Countdown, Cleo the cat makes an appearance. My latest book, Finding Rose features a black furball called Blackie as well as a pet pig called Lady.

What are you reading now?

After reading a lot of Christmas books, I’m just about to get started on The Palace of Dreams by Charlotte Betts.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m trying to write a new trilogy set in Greece, but I seem to be working on two books at the same time. My head is also buzzing with a possible sequel to Finding Rose.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I have far too many to choose just one ‘favourite,’ but I love everything written by Victoria Hislop.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

We got our first cat, Lucky, when I was about ten. I adored that black and white scamp and my lifelong love of cats stems from that time. We also had a budgie but unfortunately, he came to a sad end.

What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

I was always a sensitive child and remember watching Lassie films where I would inevitably end up blubbling. I just can’t bear cruelty to animals, so I seem to remember being distraught when Lassie was kidnapped by some baddies.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I don’t think you suddenly become a writer. In my case I have always loved writing. I used to scribble short stories and even wrote a play for my best friend and me to act out for our parents when we were kids. However, I never thought of myself as a writer. Even now, with five novels under my belt, it still feels strange to call myself a writer, but I guess if you write, then you’re a writer. I don’t think you have to have a mega publishing contract; you just need to have the confidence to believe in yourself. Incidentally, I only started writing novels in my fifties so there is hope for everyone.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

When I’m typing Smudgie likes to ‘help’ by lying across the keyboard. If I try to write in bed, he nudges my hand until I stroke him. I’m sure that without his help, my book would have been finished months ago!

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

Reading is my number one passion apart from writing and I’m also a blogger. I’m in the     lovely position of writers and publishers sending me books to review. I manage to review about 100 books a year, but even I was shocked to discover I have nearly 2000 books on my Kindle aside from the physical books. It’s getting to the stage that I no longer have a TBR pile so much as a TBR room. It’s an addiction really as I can’t resist books no matter where I am. I do buy books too and at the top of my TBR list is Heroes by Stephen Fry – I’m really looking forward to that one.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

Develop a thick skin and resilience. Unless you are incredibly talented and amazingly lucky, you will be rejected at some point. There are also trolls who will do their best to bring you down. Believe in yourself and be persistent. Don’t forget to enjoy the process though when you can, as to see your book in print is a feeling like no other.

About Julie:

Julie Ryan’s roots are in a small mining village in South Yorkshire. After a degree in French Language and Literature, wanderlust kicked in and she lived and worked in France, Poland, Thailand and Greece. Her spirit enriched, her imagination fired, Julie started a series of mystery romances; thrillers set in the Greek Isles.

A prolific and well-known book review blogger, Julie does her writing and reviewing from rural Gloucestershire, where she lives with her husband, son and rescue cat. She manages to write a book a year although without their help, she would probably write more quickly. She is a book addict and will soon need either a bigger house for her collection or a new husband!

When not writing or reading or eating chocolate, she can be found treading the boards in the local amateur dramatic society – Oh yes, she can!

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Welcome, Morgan Summer!

Happy Holidays! Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author, Morgan Summer to the blog!

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing. Currently, I am a 2nd year High School Biology teacher, married for almost 15 years with an 8 year old little girl. I write crime/detective novels as well as recently started writing an unnamed young adult mystery series. My first book Jean Stone Crime Series Volume 1: Stranger Among Us will be released early 2019.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing? I have two shelter rescues, Sheldon just turned 6 and is an 18 pound orange tabby cat and Chief is our 3 ½ year old Catahoula Mix. They are definitely apart of my book series.

What writing projects are you currently working on? Currently finishing up edits on Jean Stone Volume 2, writing Book 3 of Jean Stone, and Book 2 of my young adult mystery series.

Who is your favorite author and why? Edgar Allan Poe, his short stories were my first introduction to mystery and suspense, that day I fell in love with his writing and the genre. The Tell-Tale Heart is still my favorite of his numerous stories.

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them. Too numerous to name. My dad was a veterinarian so we always had every type of pet imaginable brought home, cats, dogs, birds, lizards, turtles, etc. They still have a chinchilla named Jasmine who is about 18 or 19 years old.

Why do you include animals in your writing? My writing is about my life and my animals are just an extension of our human family members. There hasn’t been a time where I didn’t have a dog or a cat as a companion in my life. I will always include them in my stories.

When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know? I was always a reader, but as I got older I enjoyed putting my thoughts on paper. That turned into song lyrics since I wanted to be a county singer during my teenager years. College helped refine my writing skills, it was around that time I realized that I truly had a gift for writing. Then the day came that a fellow teacher jokingly told me that I should write a crime novel. Six weeks later, Jean Stone was born.

What’s the number one item on your bucket list and why? Visit Italy. Reading is my favorite past time which transported me to different places all around the world through the pages. After reading numerous novels set there, I decided one day I would go see for myself all the beautiful sights and sounds Italy has to offer.

What do your pets do when you are writing? Lay at my feet and snore or annoy me depending on their mood.

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have? “FDR Letters” and “The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America”, sadly I have so my TBR I can barely keep up!

Where is your favorite place to read (or write)? Why? Outdoors in the country away from the world with no technology. There are no distractions, just me, my pencil and paper, and my imagination.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer? Do not write for anyone else, write for yourself. Be a limited edition.

Author Bio:

Reading was always a love of Morgan’s, devouring crime novels by the dozens. A random conversation with a fellow mentor and coworker, would inspire her to write the book series in the genre she loved. This was how Jean Stone was born.

 She has worn many hats from being a Navy Wife for 13 years to currently teaching High School Biology. Currently living back in her home state of Texas, if she isn’t teaching, she is either writing, crocheting, or spending time with her husband and daughter.

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Welcome, Monica Olsen!

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome Monica Olsen to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I’ve always loved writing. I was probably the only student in my classes in high school and college to look forward to writing the term’s research paper. For instance, in my Abnormal Psych class in college, I wrote a fifty-five page research paper on eating disorders. I even found two patients and included Q & A interviews as an exhibit to the paper. I’ve always loved to read so writing stories, I believed, would have come naturally to me. Turns out it didn’t. I started trying to write a novel in my late teens. Everything I wrote sounded hokey and contrived. Then I wrote a short children’s story and sent it in to Highlights magazine. A few months later I received a rejection letter with a list of twenty-seven suggestions for improving the story. Dejected, I shelved the book writing, finished college and now work as a claim examiner for a small third party administrator in Pennsylvania where, until recently, I was limited to report writing.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

I currently have four pets: two dogs and two cats. Thunder is a shi tzu mix and Romeo is a Maltese mix. We adopted them three years ago from the animal shelter on the same day. Both were older dogs at the time and have been such a blessing to our home. We also have two American shorthair cats, Miley and Bailey. All four of them could easily serve as the basis of more than a few stories. Our dog Thunder was the inspiration for my second book, Hair O the Dog.


Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories.

Thunder is the sweetest dog we have ever met. He is very laid back and sleeps a lot, compared to Romeo, who is very feisty, likes to wrestle. and is often up for anything. But where Romeo came to us trained and understanding simple commands, this was not the case with Thunder. We could take him out for a thirty-minute walk and he’d come inside and do his business right on the spot. Yelling at him and even crating him didn’t seem to work. I was torn between relinquishing him back to the shelter, where he’d almost certainly be euthanized (we found out shortly after we adopted him that he was closer to ten years old than six or seven the shelter told us he was), and giving him away. One day, I was shopping at Walmart and saw that the store carried ‘doggy diapers’. Sold! I had found a solution that was a win-win. They were very pricey and didn’t always fit properly, so I eventually switched to real life baby diapers, which fit the bill remarkably well.Thunder and my daughter have been inseparable since the day we brought him home. When she’s not home, we usually find him in her room, curled up and sound asleep on a sweatshirt or pair of sneakers she has left on the floor. It’s really quite endearing. My parents had abruptly given away our first dog when I was five years old and I did not want my daughter to experience the same. No kid should have to experience that heartbreak.

Hair O the Dog is geared towards the eight to eleven year old reader. It is about a young boy, Graham Cupps, who moves from Canada back to the US and has trouble making friends. His parents get him a dog, which seems to ease his loneliness. Although their hearts were in the right place, when the dog, who is also incidentally named Thunder, proves to hard to potty train, they look to find him another home. It is up to Graham to save his best friend. I hope that the readers feel Graham’s worry and despair and that these feelings inspire the readers to look for alternatives to relinquishing animals to shelters or worse, abandoning them to the streets or unsuitable homes.

What are you reading now?

The Black and The Blue, by Matthew Horace. It is essentially about policing in the US.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I just finished editing my latest middle grade fiction novel, The Piper Boy. I have also started another middle grade chapter book which I would love to adapt to a screenplay at some point. But first thing’s first. I have to actually finish the manuscript. I am about eight chapters in.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I can’t say I really have any ‘favorite’ authors. I am drawn to a few different genres: romance, historical romance, mysteries, period pieces. If I really like an author, I tend to binge on everything they’ve written. Some of my favorites have been Anita Shreve, Jodi Piccoult, Syndey Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Mary Higgins Clark and Tatiana DeRosnay. I also love Gillian Flynn, but boy is she dark!

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

I did. My first dog was Cindy, a small black and white spaniel. She was very sweet but very energetic. One day just before Christmas she pulled the Christmas tree down and made quite a mess. I came home shortly thereafter and learned that my parents had given her away. Several years later, when I was a teenager, we adopted a tiny Corgi puppy from the animal shelter named Stormy. She loved to smile and swim. And when we’d had her for a few years we adopted another black and white pointer with the sharpest hearing and vision I’ve ever seen.

Why do you include animals in your writing?

I like to include pets in my stories because, to me, it makes my characters more human.

There is a dog which I introduce at the end of my first book, I Am Lily, Hear Me Roar. It probably wasn’t necessary to do so but it brought the character such joy. It was like I rewarded her for being such a good friend to Lily.

Do you have any working or service animals in your stories? Tell us about them.

Not yet, but I hope to in the future. I have a co-worker with a severely disabled son. She has previously complained that there are so few children’s books featuring disabled kids as main characters or geared towards disabled kids. So I’d like to write a book or two to help fill that gap.

 Whats your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

I would have to say that one of my favorites early on was Disney’s Fox and the Hound. I just loved the relationship between Todd and Copper. I think I was ten when I saw it. I remember it really touched something deep inside me, even at that age. Free Willy and A Dolphins Tale are amongst some of my favorites too. I love the sea and its exotic animals. Who doesn’t? I think animals help us better identify ‘teachable moments’ to kids, such as identifying and making sense of the senseless, protecting the earth’s resources and wildlife, etc.

Whats your real-life funniest pet story?

Thunder is a constant source of amusement for us. Not only have we noticed that he cannot hear, but he has pretty bad cataracts which cause him to not be able to see, especially at night or when navigating the steps. Unless, that is, he hears his food bag opening. Then, no matter where he is that boy can hear the bag open and can make it down to the kitchen in record time.

 When did you know you were a writer? And how did you know?

I always remember wanting to be a writer. When I was six, I wrote a play in our basement and made my sisters act it out. (They have no recollection of this.) I didn’t actually publish a book until recently. After receiving the rejection letter years ago, I never seriously tried again to write with the intent on becoming a published writer. I would write little stories here and there, most of the time never finishing them. One day last year I was at lunch with a group of colleagues and I mentioned that I have always wanted to write a book. One of my colleagues convinced me to try again and now I am two books in with two more on the way. It is such an exciting time for me!

Whats the number one item on your bucket list and why?

Writing a book was number one on my bucket list. During the process I learned that my aunt, who is now deceased, wrote a play in her late teens or early twenties that was produced. Infuriatingly frustrating, my father is unable to recall any details as to when it was produced, where, by whom or the title! Whatever this drive is, it appears to be in the genes.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

I often find a little corner in a cafe and do my writing there. My pets are at home during this time.

Whats in your To Be Read (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

As soon as I started writing seriously, I went online and found a few really good Facebook groups dedicated to authors and publishers. I’ve come across some really interesting finds, such as the book I’m reading now, The Black and The Blue by Matthew Horace.

Some others I intend to pick up are:

The Cold Cold Sea by Linda Huber

Proof of Lies by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Lies that Bind by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Hazel House by Oby Aligwekwe

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana DeRosnay

These are just a few. Sadly, my free time is limited, and I haven’t been doing much reading while I have been writing. I hope to get back to it soon.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?

First, just write.

Second, it’s a process. I once read an interview with novelist Danielle Steel, whom I idolized in my teens. First, I wanted to be Judy Blume. Then I wanted to be Danielle Steel. In the interview it mentioned that she once locked herself in her bedroom and wrote a book in twenty-three hours (or something like that). Myself, I find I can write for two hours max. Many times, I’ve sat in front of my computer and have written five words. I don’t ever feel like I am wasting time. Because writing is a process.

Third, don’t lose those great ideas. I have close to an hour drive to and from work, which is when I tend to get my best ideas. I obviously can’t write them down at that point, so I dictate them into the Notes app of my cellphone. Always have something to record your thoughts. I often go back to the notes if I can’t retain the words or story line when I have time to sit and write later.

And fourth, never give up. If writing is what you want to do, then just do it. I have read many books over the years. Some I liked and some I didn’t. My friends and I sometimes disagreed on whether a book was good or not. Sometimes what I find really good another might not, and vice versa. Your readers are out there. You’ll find them.

Monicas Biography:

Monica Olsen is the author of two middle grade fiction books: Hair O the Dog (2018, Amazon) and I Am Lily, Hear Me Roar (2018, Covenant Books). She earned a BA in Law/Justice from Rowan University and an Associate in Arts from Gloucester County Community College. She lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia with her family and four pets.

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Welcome, J. P. Dalton

Pens, Paws, and Claws would like to welcome author, J. P. Dalton to the blog.

Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.

I’ve been writing professionally since I was 16. I was hired as an agate clerk at the local newspapers and eventually worked my way into some high school sports assignments. I’ve been writing ever since, though fiction has been a new and interesting adventure.

Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?

My pets didn’t appear in my book but they were regular characters in my blog, from my cat Griffith, who used to shadow me around the house and pull on my hand when I wrote, to my several dogs who perpetually are lying at – and on – my feet as I work.

What are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading “Louis XIV and His Loves.” I’ve also been binge-reading the Cotton Malone series.

What writing projects are you currently working on?

I’m bouncing between three future novels – a paranormal thriller, a romance and a possible sequel to my debut novel, “Where the Campaign Ends.”

Who is your favorite author and why?

I’ve also been a sucker for Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler. They have an ability to throw reality to the wind and create their own world which I always have envied. George R.R. Martin also would make the list, if he’d just finish the sixth book already. Are you reading, George?

Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.

I had a few dogs growing up but the best was Max. Max simply was the greatest dog on earth. He was an Airedale-shepherd mix who weighed in at a mere 102 pounds. He helped me through wrestling modules in junior high school and high school, though his teeth were sharper than my classmates’ teeth were.

 What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?

Can I go all the way back to childhood and Ribsy? I LOVED Beverly Cleary and was a huge fan of Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Ramona and even Runaway Ralph. If I go current, it’s the Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne and Oberon. Absolutely brilliant how Oberon and Atticus play off of each other.

What’s your real-life funniest pet story?

We had a beagle, Tobey, who had to be the smartest, most determined dog ever. He had this thing for going through the trash. One night we put the trash can on the counter and, when we came home, he had rolled a chair directly underneath the trash can as if it were a ladder. He also started laying down on the kitchen table for no apparent reason. We started calling him the roast beast from Dr. Seuss.

What do your pets do when you are writing?

They mostly lay down on top of my feet and sigh loudly while waiting for me to either pet them or give them a treat.

What’s in your “To Be Read” (TBR) pile right now? And how many TBR piles do you have?

There are way too many books and too many piles for me to narrow this down. I’m thinking I’ll be picking up some paranormal or fantasy series in the near future.

On the beach in Del Mar, which was the main reason the city became a character in its own right in my novel. Why? Um, the ocean. The breeze. The sound. All of it.

About J. P. Dalton:

J.P. Dalton was born in Southern California but has made the Phoenix area his home for the past 41 years. He started writing at age 16 for a local newspaper and has been writing either full-time or free-lance ever since. He and his wife Kathie love road trips, which have turned into scouting missions for book scenes. His debut novel, “Where the Campaign Ends” currently is available on Amazon.com.

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